During the 1990s and 2000s the University expanded beyond its original campus. It now has campuses in Medway, Tonbridge and Brussels, and works in partnership with Canterbury College, South Kent College and Mid-Kent College. In 2003 the title was changed to University of Kent. University of Kent at Canterbury and UKC are still used to refer to the Canterbury site, with other variants such as University of Kent at Medway and University of Kent at Brussels in use for the other sites. The term UKC is also still heavily used by both students and alumni for the University as a whole.
Canterbury has another university, Canterbury Christ Church University.
A decade later both population growth and greater demand for university places led to new considerations. In 1959 Kent County Council explored the possibilities of a university through its Education Committee, formally accepting the proposal unanimously on 24 February 1960. Two months later the Education Committee agreed to seek a site at or near Canterbury, given the historical associations of the city, subject to the support of Canterbury City Council. By 1962 a site was found at Beverley Farm, straddling the then boundary between the City of Canterbury and the administrative county of Kent.. The University was granted its Royal Charter on 4 January 1965 and the first students arrived in the October of that year. On 30 March 1966 Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent was formally installed as the first Chancellor.
The University of Kent at Canterbury was envisaged as being a Collegiate establishment, with most students living in one of the colleges on campus, and as specialising in inter-disciplinary studies in all fields. Over the years, changing demands have effectively destroyed this original concept, leading to the present state, near the "norm" for a British University.
The university grew at a rapid rate throughout the 1960s, with three colleges and many other buildings on campus being completed by the end of the decade. The 1970s saw further construction, but the university also encountered the biggest physical problem in its history. The university had been built above a tunnel on the disused Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. In July 1974 the tunnel collapsed, damaging part of the Cornwallis Building, which sank nearly a metre within about an hour on the evening of 11 July. Fortunately, the university had insurance against subsidence, so it was able to pay for the south west corner of the building to be demolished and replaced by a new wing at the other end of the building.
In 1982 the university opened the University Centre at Tonbridge (now the University of Kent at Tonbridge) for its School of Continuing Education, helping to enhance the availability of teaching across the county.
In the 2000s the university entered a collaboration with the University of Greenwich, Mid Kent College and Canterbury Christ Church University to deliver university provision in the Medway area. This led to the development of the University of Kent at Medway, opened from 2001. Initially based at Mid Kent College, a new joint campus opened in 2004. As a consequence of the expansion outside of Canterbury the university's name was formally changed to the University of Kent on 1 April 2003.
In 2007 the university was rebranded with a new logo and website. The logo was chosen following consultation with existing university students and those in sixth forms across the country.
The University of Kent's Coat of Arms were granted by the College of Arms in September 1967. The white horse of Kent is taken from the arms of the County of Kent (and can also be seen on the Flag of Kent). The three Cornish Choughs, originally belonging to the arms of Thomas Becket, were taken from the arms of the City of Canterbury. The Crest depicts the West Gate of Canterbury with a symbolic flow of water, presumably the River Great Stour, below it. Two golden Bishops' Crosiers in the shape of a St. Andrews Cross are shown in front of it. The supporters - lions with the sterns of golden ships - are taken from the arms of the Cinque Ports.
The Coat of Arms is now formally used only for degree certificates, degree programmes and some merchandise, as a result of the University seeking a consistent identity branding.
The university is now divided into four colleges, named after distinguished scholars. In chronological order of construction:
There was much discussion about the names adopted for most of the colleges with the following alternative names all in consideration at one point or another:
(Both Becket and Tyler were eventually used as the names for residential buildings on campuses and the building housing both the Architecture and Anthropology departments is named Marlowe.)
Each college has residential rooms, lecture theatres, study rooms, computer rooms and social areas. The intention of the colleges was that they should not be just Halls of Residence, but complete academic communities. Each college has its own bar, all rebuilt on a larger scale, and originally its own dining hall (only Rutherford has a functioning dining hall; Darwin's is hired out for conferences and events; Keynes' closed in 2000 and converted into academic space; and Eliot's closed in 2006). It was expected that each college (more were planned) would have around 600 students as members, with an equivalent proportion of staff, with half the students living within the college itself and the rest coming onto campus to eat and study within their colleges. Many facilities, ranging from accommodation, tutorials and alumni relations, would be handled on a college basis. With no planned academic divisions below the Faculty level, the colleges would be main focus of students' lives and there would be no units of a similar or smaller size to provide a rival focus of loyalties.
This vision of a collegiate university has increasingly fallen away. The funding for colleges did not keep pace with the growth in student numbers, with the result that only four colleges were built. In later years when there was heavy student demand for scarce accommodation in Canterbury the solution was found in building additional on campus accommodation but not in the form of further colleges. The hopes that students living off campus would stay around to eat dinner in their colleges were not met, whilst the abolition of college amenities fees removed students' direct stake in their colleges. With the growth of specialist subject departments as well as of other university wide facilities, more and more of the role of colleges was transferred to the central university. Accommodation and catering were transferred to the centralised University of Kent at Canterbury Hospitality (UKCH).
Today the University cannot be considered collegiate in any true sense - applications are made to the University as a whole, and many of the colleges rely on each other for day-to-day operation. Academic departments have no formal ties to colleges other than those that are located within particular college buildings due to availability of space, with lectures, seminars and tutorials taking place wherever there is an available room rather than on a college basis. Many students are allocated accommodation in their respective college, but some are housed in developments with no defined collegiate link whilst others are housed in different colleges. In addition to these college accommodations there are also:
The Templeman Library (named after Dr Geoffrey Templeman, the University's first Vice-Chancellor) contains over a million items in stock including books, journals, videos, DVDs, and archive materials (for example, a full text of The Times from 1785 onwards), yet it is still only half its planned size. It has a materials fund of approximately £1million a year, and adds 12,000 items every year. It is open every day in term time. It receives 800,000 visits a year, with approximately half a million loans per annum.
It also houses the British Cartoon Archive, (established 1975) a national collection of, mainly, newspaper cartoons, with over 90,000 images catalogued.
The Gulbenkian Cinema is a public cinema in the Gulbenkian complex open to students and the general public. It is Kent's independent film theatre showing new mainstream and non mainstream releases as well as archive and foreign language films not otherwise available in the region. In the daytime the cinema is used as a lecture theatre.
Additionally, a £1.5 million sports facility called the Sport Centre was completed in 2003. Its facilities include tennis and squash courts, hockey and football pitches, a state of the art gymnasium, a cardio theatre, a dance studio, a multi purpose sports hall and a fair trade cafe, but no swimming pool.
There are five dining areas on campus. In addition to these main eating outlets there are many vending machines and some bars.
In 2000 the University joined with other educational institutes to form the "Universities for Medway" initiative, aimed at increasing participation in higher education in the Medway Towns. The following year the University of Kent at Medway formally opened, initially based at Mid Kent College. By 2004 a new campus for the university had been established in the old Chatham Dockyard, sharing a campus with Canterbury Christchurch University and University of Greenwich.
The original plan was to have no academic sub-divisions within the three faculties (initially Humanities, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences) and to incorporate an interdisciplinary element to all degrees through common first year courses ("Part I") in each faculty, followed by specialist study in the second and final years ("Part II"). The lack of Departments encouraged the development of courses that crossed traditional divides, such as Chemical Physics, Chemistry with Control Engineering, Biological Chemistry and Environmental Physical Science.
However the interdisciplinary approach proved increasingly complex for two reasons. The levels of specialisation at A Levels meant that many students had not studied particular subjects for some years and this made it impossible to devise a course that both covered areas unstudied by some and did not bore others. This proved an especial problem in Natural Sciences, where many Mathematics students had not studied Chemistry at A Level and vice versa. Additionally many subjects, particularly those in the Social Sciences, were not taught at A Level and required the first year as a grounding in the subject rather than an introduction to several different new subjects. Problems were especially encountered in the Faculty of Natural Sciences where the differing demands of Mathematics and physical sciences led to two almost completely separate programmes and student bases. In 1970 this led to the creation of the School of Mathematical Studies, standing outside the Faculties. The addition of other subjects led to increased pressure on common Part I programmes and increasingly students took more specialised Part I courses designed to prepare them for Part II study.
The University now has the Faculties further divided into 18 Departments and Schools, ranging from the School of English to the Department of Biosciences, and from the Kent Law School to the Department of Economics. Also of note is the University's Brussels School of International Studies, located in Brussels, Belgium. The School offers Master's degrees in international relations theory and international conflict analysis, along with an LLM in international law. In 2005 a new department, The Kent School of Architecture, began teaching its first students. In 2008, Wye College came under Kent's remit, in joint partnership with Imperial College London.
The student population is quite mixed, with approximately 16% of students coming from overseas. No fewer than 128 different nationalities are currently represented. The female to male ratio is 55 women to every 45 men.
The website itself is similar to other social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Members are able to provide a profile which can include information about their course of study, personal details and interests as well as upload photos. The mainstay of The Student Bar is the ability to create and join groups for discussion on a range of topics. It creates a closer unity between students at the university that wasn't usually provided for students prior to 2006 and adds an extra level of socialising. The Student Bar is now open to students at other universities in the UK.
The university has an official student newspaper named inQuire which is supported by an online news website inQuireLive.co.uk which was launched in January 2008. The newspaper is published every 2 weeks and is edited by a group of unpaid students. While the newspaper and news website is funded by the student union it is independent in its content.
Notable alumni of the University of Kent include Tom Wilkinson OBE - actor, Oscar nominee; Michael Baigent - author; William H. Kennedy - author; Valerie Bloom - poet; Robert Wade - screenwriter; Patrick Wright - journalist and author; Sir David Akers-Jones - Former acting Governor of Hong Kong, 1986/87; Alan Davies - English Comedian and Actor; David Fulton - Cricketer, former captain of Kent CCC; and Sir Hugh Orde OBE - Chief Constable of Northern Ireland.
Whilst the University is secular, there is a strong chaplaincy consisting of permanent Anglican and Catholic priests, a Pentecostal minister, as well as part-time chaplains from other denominations and faiths.
The chaplaincy runs the annual Carol Service that takes place every year in the Cathedral at the end of Autumn Term.
The 2009 Guardian Newspaper University League Tables (published in 2008) placed Kent's ranking at 29th in the UK. While The Times Good University Guide 2009 (published 2008) puts Kent in 36th place. The Sunday Times University League Table (published in 2008) placed Kent in 41st place while the 2009 Complete University Guide published in association with The Independent'' (published in 2008) puts Kent in 35th place nationally. (There are some 125 ranked university institutions in the UK).
In the world university league tables, Kent is placed in the top 500 world Universities (441st in the world) by the 2007 Quacquerrelli-Symonds/Times Higher Education Supplement (QS-THES) league table . Kent does not appear in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's world rankings table.
The students of the Franco-British double degree programme receive at the end of the fourth year the BA (Bachelor of Arts) from the University of Kent, the Diplôme by the IEP of Lille and at the end of the fifth year, either the MA (Master of Arts) in Canterbury or in Brussels or the Master delivered by the IEP of Lille, chosen between 14 parcours de formation by the IEP of Lille.